Shayna Baszler discusses “juggling” pro wrestling and sports entertainment with Sports Illustrated

BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR


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Speaking to Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated, Shayna Baszler discussed how it’s a “juggling act” trying to stay true to her “martial lineage in professional wrestling.”

Having been a pioneer in women’s mixed martial arts and competed on The Ultimate Fighter, Baszler has the bonafides of a legitimate grappler and cage fighter. She said she walks through the curtain with that legitimacy that some wrestlers “work 20 years to build.” However, she did add it’s a curse as not everyone on the roster “knows how to deal with that style and mindset.”

Regarding her current character and presentation, Baszler said, “I need to show that I can be counted on to nail whatever it is I’m being asked to do.” She said it would be easy to be a “badass tyrant” like she was in NXT, but after having established that character, she said it’s important that she shows a wide range of what professional wrestling is today.

She equated it to music, where “not everything is for everyone,” and understands why some dislike her doing comedy. However, since she’s established already as that “badass tyrant,” she said all it takes is “one sentence from a promo delivered properly” to reassert herself.

Having been trained by Josh Barnett and the late Billy Robinson, Baszler said she always thinks about Robinson when she steps in the ring and added that at his funeral, Barnett said to her, “At the end of the day, if Billy would look at it and nod his head, then you’re doing fine.”

On the topic of WrestleMania 36, which saw her lost to Becky Lynch, Baszler said she had a lot to say. She analogized the experience to her elimination fight loss to Julianna Pena on The Ultimate Fighter because that fight was in front of 30 people and she had fought “with 30,000 people watching.” She didn’t make any excuses, but said “it’s a very different feeling without an audience.”

She said she pulled up to the Performance Center the day of and sat in her car, angry and frustrated. “There are so many what-ifs, but you can’t sit and dwell on it.”

She closed by saying her partnership with Jax has “helped me expand my pro wrestling repertoire.” She added there aren’t tag teams in MMA, so it’s a whole new art she learned. She said it’s much more in-depth than people realize, equating it to a Rubik’s cube.

She added she’s putting more tools in her toolbox, and people still know that when she walks through the curtain, “you know I can ruin someone.”


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